Transport Air Conditioning

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GERMANY:  According to German media sources, Volkswagen has confirmed that two of it's production vehicles, the VW Phaeton and the Audi A8 will move to CO2 as refrigerant in their air conditioning systems with the technology rolling out progressively over its entire vehicle fleet.

In March 2013, VW, Daimler, Audi, BMW and Porsche originally announced plans to develop CO2 technology as a more climate-friendly refrigerant for air conditioning systems as an alternative to the controversial R-1234yf.

German media sources have reported four other carmakers — Daimler, Audi, BMW and Porsche — also intend to switch to CO2 technology in mobile air conditioning (MAC) systems as they continue to ignore European Union (EU) demands to use R1234yf.

Daimler claims the refrigerant is not safe and that it can emit toxic hydrogen fluoride gas when it burns, making it a safety hazard, however other European carmakers have switched their newest models to the new coolant developed by Honeywell in partnership with Dupont.

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SWEDEN:  The UK’s Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has awarded a technology contract to Swedish company ClimateWell to develop a tailored thermal heat-pump component to be integrated into a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for use in a range of Heavy Duty Vehicles (HDVs), to improve fuel efficiency.

This project will seek to develop a system with the ability to use the hot exhaust gasses to cool the vehicle cabin using ClimateWell’s heat pump component design. ClimateWell’s established sorption technology is based on the principle of a chemical heat pump technology with integrated energy storage in a salt solution.

  • New technology contract to develop a tailored thermal heat-pump component to be integrated into Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning Systems in HDV’s
  • Builds upon ClimateWell’s established sorption technology
  • Project is part of ETI’s HDV Efficiency programme which aims to increase fuel efficiency of UK land vehicles and marine vessels by up to 30%

The ETI is a public-private partnership between global energy and engineering companies and the UK Government that brings together engineering projects that develop affordable, secure and sustainable technologies to help the UK address its long term emissions reductions targets as well as delivering nearer term benefits. This project is part of its HDV Efficiency Programme which is seeking to deliver real world fuel efficiences and has an aim to increase the efficiency of UK land vehicles and marine vessels by up to 30%.

ClimateWell is a leading provider of heating and cooling technology solutions for use across a number of industries and applications.

Deborah Stubbs, Project Manager, HDV at the ETI who is leading the project said:

“The aim of our HDV programme is to increase real world fuel efficiencies in HDVs. With ClimateWell’s cutting-edge technology, we see a potential to reduce fuel consumption in HDVs by up to 3-4% depending on the vehicle and its operating conditions. So succesful delivery of this project will be an important contribution to the overall fuel efficiency objective we have set for the programme.”

Per Olofsson, Chief Executive Officier at ClimateWell adds:

“We are extremely pleased to have been selected by the ETI to undertake this project. We have proven heat component technology operating in a number of fields and believe there is great potential to adapt this into the HDV sector. Our aim is for this to work within on-highway vehicles, buses, agricultural machinery and construction equipment ” 

About the ETI

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) is a public-private partnership between a global energy and engineering companies – BP, Caterpillar, EDF, E.ON, Rolls-Royce & Shell – and the UK Government
The ETI is focused on accelerating the deployment of affordable, secure low carbon energy systems for 2020 to 2050 by demonstrating technologies, developing knowledge, skills and supply-chains and informing the development of regulation, standards and policy. 

For further information please visit –

About ClimateWell

ClimateWell - is an award-winning cleantech company headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden that has invented and successfully developed a thermo-chemical heat pump that converts and stores thermal energy used for heating and cooling without the need of electricity. It is based on a unique and patented triple-state absorption technology where crystallization of the salt does not have to be avoided, thus increasing the energy and power density. ClimateWell is currently working together with major OEM customers such as GE, Rheem, Alfa Laval and Dometic to develop energy-efficient products.

For further information please visit – 


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EUROPE:  By 1 January 2017 all new models of automobiles are to be equipped with low-GWP refrigerants but controversy surrounding the implementation of refrigerant R1234yf in new vehicles to comply with the European Union MAC Directive is still on-going.

As the evidence questioning the safety of refrigerant R1234yf mounts, most recently with the release of scientific studies conducted at the highly esteemed Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) Munich, revealing that the chemical is highly flammable and that during combustion the refrigerant releases extremely harmful chemicals, support for the use of natural refrigerant CO2 is growing stronger. 

As a result Honeywell, has publicly gone on the price offensive; in a letter to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, the company is attempting to attract manufacturers to its refrigerant with a promise to reduce its price by 30%.

The European Commission is still holding steadfast on its decision that R1234yf is safe and should be implemented under the MAC Directive, despite facing criticism from member states, namely Germany, environmental organisations, automotive giants, and the disgruntled public.

Earlier this year, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) issued a statement supporting those car manufacturers, such as Daimler Mercedes who are refusing to implement R1234yf technology in favour of CO2 MAC systems, and urged the European Commission to reassess its stance, given the evidence counter claiming that R1234yf presents no ‘serious risks’. 

Now, the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) has released its official opinion criticising the safety analysis conducted by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) for the European Commission as superficial, stating that this analysis provides no significant new contributions with regard to scientific or technical knowledge of refrigerant R1234yf. In addition, the UBA accuses EU researchers of having drawn erroneous conclusions, as there is no mention of the fact that the refrigerant was found to form corrosive hydrofluoric (HF) acid in experiments conducted by the KBA.

Initial safety tests were conducted by the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA), which at first determined that the controversial refrigerant presented no serious risks, but after a more thorough inspection, the KBA found the refrigerant to combust in a simulated crash and thus urged the EC to further investigate the circumstances.

The JRC, as the EU’s own research institute, concluded the refrigerant is safe, although it only examined the documents of the KBA and conducted no tests of its own. The JRC report does not include more recent findings from LMU Munich revealing the intense flammability of the chemical concoction and that during combustion, the refrigerant releases highly toxic carbonyl fluoride (COF2) in addition to hydrogen fluoride. 

Source: : Cold Case Files

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USA:  We all know that air conditioning in your vehicle can effect on fuel economy. Now Emissions Analytics have put to the test over 100 vehicles with different fuel consumptions so see just how much air conditioning can affect your fuel efficiency

Out the models tested (gasoline, diesel and gasoline hybrid), hybrid automobiles are significantly affected by turning the air conditioning or climate control on, recording a 9.3 percent city/2.8 percent highway average reduction in fuel economy.

To understand the impact of this, a vehicle with a range of up to 380 miles will be reduced by 35.3 miles if you turn on the air conditioning.

The second most affected type of vehicle is the one that uses diesel. The average reduction in miles per gallon for diesel-fed automobiles sits at 6.3 percent city and 3.3 percent highway.

The type of car that uses the least quantity of fuel with air conditioning on is the one that's got a gasoline-fed engine.

The average reduction in miles per gallon of vehicles running on gasoline is 5.1 percent city and 2.7 percent highway.

Across the 100+ vehicles the average reduction comes down to 4 percent on the combined driving cycle.

To see the results of the study, click here. 


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GERMANY: The German Environmental Aid Association (DUH) has filed a suit at the European Court against the European Commission to gain complete access to files relating to the controversial Dupont/Honeywell HFO refrigerant R1234yf.

The document which details the communication between the European commission, the automotive industry and chemical industries had previously been requested for release in January 2014 however only parts of the document were received.  

The General Secretariat of the European Commission justified this with the "protection of commercial interests" and the "protection of the ongoing investigations." "The Commission represents the economic interests of the automotive and chemical industry on the environment and human security. At the same time hardens by this lack of transparency is a suspicion that the relevant Directorate-General and the relevant Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani in the evaluation of the refrigerant R1234yf anything but at ease are " criticized DUH national manager Jürgen Resch .

The European Commission has admitted that the release of these documents could affect the "adaptability and stability of the company and could also affect their medium term plans".

The documents being requested in the suit relate to producers of R1234yf Honeywell and DuPont, as well as Automotive Company Ford. They also relate to the period in which the delivery of the refrigerant was pushed back by 2 years due to difficulties is the delivery of R1234yf.  

The German Environmental Aid Association (DUH) believes, "The implementation of the current Directive was arbitrarily adjusted to the availability of R1234yf."

"In addition to the generous dispensation in the transition to sustainable refrigerant is also the Commission's approach in the safety assessment of R1234yf: Despite alarming results of work undertaken by DUH fire tests and other tests with the highly controversial chemical, the Joint Research Centre of the Commission was limited to only inspecting the examinations of the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA)."

DUH also says The Commission did not undertake any of their own tests and is missing a comprehensive security analysis.

You can read more news about R1234yf by clicking any of the below articles:

German Environment Ministry Supports use of CO2 over R1234yf

VW u-turns over plans not to use Controversial Refrigerant

Honeywell-DuPont R1234yf Refrigerant cold war heats up with claim and counter-claim

Mercedes wins battle with France over continuing saga of A/C refrigerant gas


GERMANY:  A statement has been issued by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) supporting car manufacturers who have decided to develop mobile air conditioning systems equipped with natural refrigerant CO2 rather than using the controversial Dupont/Honeywell HFO alternative R1234yf.

The State Secretary of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Jochen Flasbarth, gave an interview with the Frankfurter Rundschau on Monday, and said, “CO2 is the way to go. It is safe and has a very low global warming potential.”

As we previously reported carmakers Daimler (Mercedes), Volkswagen and BMW have so far refused to equip their fleets (with the exception of the BMW i3) with the flammable refrigerant R1234yf that is alleged to release toxic hydrogen and carbonyl fluorides during combustion.

Flasbarth also stated the he wished “the European Commission recognised the advantages of the refrigerant CO2,” calling for a solution that allows carmakers, if necessary, to convert portions of their new fleets’ air conditioning systems to a new, climate-friendly refrigerant at a later date than that set by the European Union MAC Directive (1 January 2017).

There is also an apparent discussion about extending the use of refrigerant R134a for up to two years due to difficulties the Volkswagen Auto Group faces equipping such a massive fleet with CO2 air conditioning systems by the deadline, forcing the car manufacturer to instate a “transition period” during which new vehicles would be furnished with R1234yf. To successfully employ CO2 as a refrigerant in automobiles, the entire air conditioning systems have to be redeveloped to work at a higher pressure than the current systems.

One of the suggestions made by Flasbarth is that the three German car manufacturers backing CO2 over alternative refrigerant R1234yf pursue a common strategy in the conversion of mobile air conditioning systems with an end goal of shifting to CO2.

Daimler says it will continue to drive the development of new air conditioning systems, and VW has insisted its R744 systems are still under development in new vehicle generations, and that its focus remains R744, despite a potential transition period.

More News on R1234yf

VW u-turns over plans not to use Controversial Refrigerant

Honeywell-DuPont R1234yf Refrigerant cold war heats up with claim and counter-claim

Mercedes wins battle with France over continuing saga of A/C refrigerant gas

GERMANY: According to media reports German car manufacturer VW is now considering using the controversial refrigerant R1234yf in air conditioning systems as an interim solution.

After announcing in March that VW had decided not to use a new air-conditioning refrigerant R1234yf they now seem to have u-turned on their decision and plan to use the new refrigerant.

Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech had signalled that his group - consisting of brands that include Audi, Porsche and Skoda - would not use HFO-1234yf because of its flammability and for months have propagated to the public the benefits of non-hazardous, but more expensive CO2 refrigerant for car air conditioners with upgrade to this technology to start as soon as possible.

VW explained that they stand by their previous announcement, to equip its vehicles with the environmentally friendly refrigerant CO2 but indicated that they would not be able to do so until EU rules are adjusted to allow it, and now need a temporary solution.

VW rival Daimler has also previously refused to use to refrigerant because of fire and The European Commission has opened an infringement procedure against Germany.

The saga over Honeywell/Duponts R1234yf refrigerant looks set to continue....Watch this space. 

image Credit: Steve Mann /

USA:  DuPont has announced that it predicts nearly 3 million vehicles worldwide will use HFO-1234yf as a refrigerant by the end of 2014.

With the very public exception of Mercedes the majority of automakers are currently using HFO-1234yf, to comply with the European Union (EU) Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) Directive

Thierry F. J. Vanlancker, president, DuPont Chemicals & Fluoroproducts said, “We expect higher conversion in the European market, driven by the need to comply with the MAC Directive.”

Adoption of HFO-1234yf may also be driven by the anticipated regulatory developments particularly in the U.S. as the rule-making is expected as early as this year, eliminating the use of HFC-134a in new vehicle air conditioning.  Japan is also expected to issue final rule-making on an HFC phase-down schedule, which will cover automotive refrigerants.

HFO-1234yf was specifically developed to enable automakers to comply with the EU MAC Directive, which requires that all new model type cars sold in EU Member States use an automotive refrigerant that has a global warming potential (GWP) of less than 150. By 2017, all new cars sold in Member States must meet this requirement and most of the world’s automakers have indicated they will pr already have adopted HFO-1234yf, which DuPont sells as Opteon® YF.

HFO-1234yf has a GWP of less than one, which is well below the threshold established by the MAC Directive. The GWP is 99.9 percent lower than that of HFC-134a, the refrigerant it was developed to replace. In addition to its extremely low global warming potential, it's also is quite energy efficient, which can help maximize the fuel efficiency of cars, further reducing potential impact to the climate.

“We believe Opteon® YF will help significantly reduce the environmental footprint of cars over time, which is a critical sustainability need around the world,” said Kathryn K. McCord, global business director, DuPont Fluorochemicals. “If this product were adopted in all new cars sold in the EU, North America, and Japan, those cars would have reduced emissions equivalent to using around a billion fewer gallons of fuel or driving 15-32 billion fewer miles.”

As we previously reported a number of voices in Germany continue to raise concerns about this product relative to flammability and potential incineration byproducts. Mercedes has refused to switch from the existing R134a refrigerant to the new refrigerant R1234yfdpuf due to these issues. However, these claims have been vehemently denied by DuPont and extensively and thoroughly investigated by third party research initiatives in settings that simulate real-life situations.

Based on results of these evaluations, HFO-1234yf has been accepted by the automotive industry and by regulatory bodies. Most recently, a German professor pointed at potential safety risks based on lab results showing formation of carbonyl fluoride from decomposition of this product through combustion.

“In reality, it has been well known for a long time that carbonyl fluoride can potentially form from decomposition of many fluorine-containing refrigerants, including HFC-134a, which has been safely used in more than a billion vehicles over the last two decades,” said Mario Nappa, a distinguished DuPont scientist who is a recognized authority on fluorine chemistry. “Further, it is well documented in scientific literature that if carbonyl fluoride were to form in an extreme, theoretical case, it would exist for only a fraction of a second, not long enough to put people at risk.”

BRUSSELS--The European Commission yesterday launched formal legal proceedings against Germany over the continued use of the banned MAC refrigerant R134a in new Mercedes-Benz cars.

The EU executive has also sent a warning to the UK, Belgium and Luxembourg, saying that they also could face potential legal action for breaches of EU regulations following the approval of new vehicle imports using the banned refrigerant.

The EU "mobile air conditioning" directive 2006/40/EC bans the use of R134a in models approved for sale since the start of 2011. Vehicle types certified earlier, or their derivatives, have until 2017 to comply.

Daimler has previously argued that it wants to continue using R134a fluid for safety reasons and last year was seen to be backed by the German government.

The EU's industry commissioner, AntonioTajani, said "the commission had held both political and technical meetings with German authorities over the past weeks, but that the time had come to find a solution". 

Daimler said it has followed proper procedures regarding the use of the refrigerant which it believes can used in its cars, including new models, until the end of 2016.

The German auto maker said it has suggested an alternative to Brussels to address its environmental and competition concerns regarding its continued use of the R134a fluid.

Daimler spokesman Matthias Brock said "We submitted a proposal, via the German government, that would compensate for the higher carbon emissions that come about when using the R134a cooling fluid,"

Mr. Tajani acknowledged that Daimler had submitted a technical solution though the auto maker could also recall cars using the old fluid that were sold in the first half of last year, which an EU official says number around 113,000.

A possible recall might also involve cars sold after June last year if the commission confirmed "indications" that Germany had deliberately used out-of-date approvals for selling new cars to get round the new legislation.

The EU has mandated that car manufacturers use Honeywell's HFO refrigerant R1234yf which has a GWP of 4, stating it is far less harmful to the environment than R134a.

U.S based Honeywell announced last month an investment of $300 million to build a new manufacturing plant in response to increasing overseas demands.

Daimler has said that the Honeywell agent is dangerously combustible, a claim Honeywell rejects. The Commission's Tajani said Brussels has found "no problems" with the Honeywell fluid.

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